Real solutions to violence epidemic in Indigenous communities

Sara Hudson

11 November 2016 | Ideas@TheCentre

SH violence domestic indigenous 2Urgent action is needed to counteract the epidemic of violence in Indigenous communities.  But instead of action, the government and Aboriginal legal services are busying themselves with inquiries and racial discrimination complaints.

Rather than wasting money on yet another inquiry — where many of the recommendations come to naught — the federal government would be much better off focusing on the social issues that lead to high rates of violence and incarceration.

In some parts of the country, the rate of hospitalisation for domestic violence victims is 86 times higher for Indigenous women than it is for non-Indigenous women.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women have drawn attention to these appalling statistics but their voices have often been ignored.

Shamed by the Chairperson of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council’s scathing attack on the government’s inaction on this issue, the federal government recently announced a $25 million package for frontline services to prevent violence. But this isn’t new money — just a re-announcement of the $100 million over 12 years for family violence in the 2016-17 federal budget.

Implementing good policy to counteract high levels of Indigenous disadvantage requires much more than just announcing a million dollar budget package.  To this end, we are pleased to support the voices of three outspoken and fearless Aboriginal women, Professor Marcia Langton AM, Councillor Jacinta Price, and lawyer and businesswoman Josephine Cashman at a special event at the National Press Club next Thursday.

The three women will outline some real solutions to the high rates of violence and incarceration in Indigenous communities.

Tellingly, those Indigenous communities with private home ownership and a sustainable economy also have lower crime and incarceration rates. For example, Mapoon in Far North of Queensland has a crime rate half that of the general rate for Queensland, (9293 offences per 100,000 people) and a tenth of all Queensland Indigenous communities.

This suggests that strategies to improve the economic outcomes of Indigenous communities are likely to be much more effective in reducing high rates of family violence than any other measure ‘banded’ about by government — like waiting with a stretcher at the bottom of a cliff to offer services.

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